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Artist Maya Lin plants 49 dead trees in Manhattan to raise climate change awareness

A view of Maya Lin’s Ghost Forest installation in Madison Square Park, New York City.
A view of Maya Lin’s Ghost Forest installation in Madison Square Park, New York City.
Screenshot: NJ.com

Forty-nine dead trees have just been planted in Manhattan’s Madison Square Park. What looks at first like a pretty serious landscaping accident is actually an art installation by Maya Lin that’s been created in order to highlight the effects of climate change.

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Lin, who’s perhaps best known for creating the Washington, D.C. Vietnam Veterans Memorial, brought the dead trees from the New Jersey Pine Barrens, where rising sea levels have killed stretches of the forest’s Atlantic Cedars with saltwater inundation. Lin told Reuters that her installation, Ghost Forest, is based on the real-world “ghost forests” created due to climate change, and “[noted] that more than 50% of Atlantic Cedars on the U.S. Eastern Seaboard have been lost.”

In her artist’s statement, which is reprinted at The Architect’s Newspaper, Lin writes that “Throughout the world, climate change is causing vast tracts of forested lands to die off.” She describes seeing ghost forests in southwestern Colorado, where trees that are already “overstressed from these rising temperatures” have been killed by “insects whose populations are thriving in these warmer temperatures,” another of the causes behind this form of deforestation.

“As I approached thinking about a sculptural installation for Madison Square Park,” Lin writes, “I knew I wanted to create something that would be intimately related to the Park itself, the trees, and the state of the earth.”

The Architect’s Newspaper notes that, alongside the installation itself, Lin and the Cornell Lab Of Ornithology have also partnered to create “a soundscape of the animals once native to the island of Manhattan.” The project will also include “a public tree and shrub planting campaign” in September and October, panels, and an exhibition of Lin’s “process sketches and photos” held at Fotografiska New York.

Ghost Forest will remain in Madison Square Park until November 14.

[via Boing Boing]

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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.